LONDON (Reuters) - The government is fully aware of the welter of new rules banks face at a time of low interest rates and other challenges, Britain’s new financial services minister said on Thursday.
Two weeks into the job, Stephen Barclay, a former financial regulator who has worked in banking, struck a conciliatory tone, saying it was very clear that the pace of regulation has not abated.
“In government we need to be mindful of the cumulative impact,” Barclay told a British Bankers’ Association conference.
Banks face new rules to prevent money laundering, requiring them to ring-fence their retail arms with their own layer of capital, and opening up the payments services market with new EU rules to boost innovation, Barclay said.
He wanted to give banks as much time as possible to implement the new EU rules and said he had asked officials to lay out the regulations before parliament’s summer break.
The banking sector faces potential upheaval with Britain’s departure from the European Union in 2019, given the cross-border activities in the sector.
“In leaving the EU we need to prioritise British prosperity, recognising the need for an implementation period, so we have a slope, not a sudden cliff edge,” Barclay said, reiterating a view already expressed by Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond.
The government will respond “quickly and constructively” to the banking sector, mindful of the 71 billion pounds of tax the financial services contributes to public services and the million people it employs, he said.
“I am conscious of the way the industry is often portrayed – with the Wall Street image of bankers far removed from the experience of cashiers and the many other staff in retail branches across the country,” Barclay said.
Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Susan Fenton